NIKOLA Jokic had a triple-double as the visiting Denver Nuggets defeated the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans 105-99 on Wednesday night.
Jokic had 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, Malik Beasley added 22 points, Monte Morris scored 20 and Paul Millsap had 13 as the Nuggets won their fourth consecutive game.
The Pelicans played without five of their top six scorers for the second consecutive night.
Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton, E’Twaun Moore and Nikola Mirotic were all sidelined by injury, leaving just guard Jrue Holiday available among the top six players.
New Orleans faced the same plight a night earlier but overcame the absences to beat the Rockets 121-116 in Houston.
Holiday scored 22 points, Kenrich Williams added 21, Darius Miller had 15 and Jahlil Okafor 14 to lead the Pelicans, who lost for the fourth time in five games.
The Nuggets, who rallied from a 25-point deficit to win at Memphis on Monday, led for most of the game.
New Orleans led by three points at halftime, but Denver scored the first 10 points of the third quarter.
Solomon Hill’s basket gave the Pelicans their first points four minutes into the quarter, and Miller made back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 71-66.
Gary Harris answered with back-to-back 3-pointers for the Nuggets, who took an 86-75 lead after three quarters.
New Orleans began the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run as Williams’ 3-pointer cut Denver’s lead to 88-86.
The Pelicans got within two points twice more, but Beasley scored five points to help Denver open a 100-93 lead.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Ian Clark and Holiday pulled New Orleans within 100-99 with 1:33 left.
But the Nuggets turned to Jokic, who made consecutive baskets for a 104-99 lead with 42 seconds left, and New Orleans didn’t score again.
The Nuggets scored the first seven points of the game before settling for a 29-26 lead after the first quarter.
The score was tied five times in the second quarter before the Pelicans took a 56-53 halftime lead. — Reuters